In contrast, adults can look only to themselves for validation of worth, value, confidence, esteem and so on.
In a child's life, those characteristics must come from significant others because the child's very sense of self is rudimentary and developing.
For the adult, others confirm but do not confer worth and value.
It is a paradox of life that what we can get only from others when we are children can come only from ourselves when we are adults.
This certainly does not imply that adults have no need of others.
As a species, we are social beings who derive confirmation of our validity from good relationships.
If confirmation of the adult's value does not come from his relationships, he/she can do something about it. He can try to modify his interactions with those others, or he can choose new companions.
But the child has no other options.
Being deprived of validation leads the child to cling to the very source of deprivation---the withholding parents.
He/she futilely hopes that somehow, someday, the vital one will come through. He/she believes that he/she will then have what he/she requires to feel empowered and will be able to move on.
Without a sense of inner strength, moving on is as terrifying as jumping out of an airplane without a parachute. Imagine the plane, representing childhood conflicts---crashed long ago, and somehow the child survived the crash and has grown into adulthood. It seem inconceivable that he/she would remain in the wreck of those conflicts...
yet that is exactly what happens.
To leave the crash site feels overwhelming; the somehow the child survived the crash and has grown into adulthood. The child never heard the pilot say, "Go on! You are okay and can make it!"
It is not necessarily the actual parents to whom a deprived person clings. More often he/she holds onto the subsequent "stand-ins"---friends, lovers and so on--whom he/she chooses specifically because they continue to prompt the same familiar deprivation cues that the parents provided.
What a peculiar, powerful, and paradoxical state of affairs.
The less one got as child, the more one clings as an adult to a source that perpetuates deprivation.
The adult who operates as a child will stand starving in an emotional bread line waiting for the delivery of a crumb that tells him he has worth when right across the street there may well be a smorgasbord waiting. "but if I cross the street, I will lose my place in line," he/she may rationalize. "when the delivery does come, I will miss out."
The waiting continues.
Kardener & Kardener ~ Breaking Free